Victor Frankenstein, directed by Paul McGuigan delivers a compelling take on the friendship between Igor and Dr Frankenstein. Unfortunately the film doesn’t have much else to offer and soon just falls back into a by the numbers film, that while exciting and at times interesting, isn’t always the most attention grabbing.
Unsurprisingly in Victor Frankenstein we explore the origins of the professional and personal bond between Igor, played by Daniel Radcliffe and Victor Frankenstein, played by James McAvoy. The two embark on scientific mission to change the one thing that is impossible to… death. Of course the two face many hurdles; religiously dedicated police officers, a rich and troublesome trust fund kid and the allure of a beautiful women.
Certainly the element of the film I enjoyed the most was the dynamic not only between Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy, but also the dynamic between their characters. With some fast and exciting dialogue for both actors to sink their teeth into, and a great chemistry between them both – Victor Frankenstein as a film offers one of the most interesting and well explored origins for the characters.
Both Frankenstein and Igor are characters that are reasonably well known in pop culture and so it’s enjoyable to see some new life breathed into them. This is of course aided by the fact that Radcliffe and McAvoy deliver some great performances. Daniel Radcliffe brings a shy innocence to Igor, I felt for him and I was rooting for him to succeed. McAvoy captures the unsettling madness of Dr Frankenstein, while also bringing a tortured-ness to him – McAvoy did at times go a little over board, but never in a way that harmed the film.
What’s frustrating is that outside of these two characters there is a lot to be desired for the supporting cast. Andrew Scott – who you’ll recognise from BBC’s Sherlock as Moriarty – plays the devoutly religious Inspector Turpin. Now I enjoyed the dichotomy between Frankenstein and him (religion vs science) but the problem is that the film presents his moral standing with the subtly of a slap to the face. I really enjoyed seeing Turpin and Frankenstein’s battle of words and would have certainly liked more of it, but the film gives us far too little, and quickly descends into chaos and less exploration of the characters.
I would at this point give a little insight into the other supporting roles in the film but it seems the film forgot to do that itself so… What I will say is that the film has a brief but always great performance from Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister in Game of Thrones) who played the disappointed father of Victor Frankenstein. Weirdly the film also boasts a brief cameo from Mark Gatiss (Mycroft in BBC’s Sherlock) but he says nothing and apart from putting on some funny looking goggles doesn’t really do anything either, after a minute or two he leaves and nothing becomes of having the great actor on screen… Weird.
Something that I was not expecting from the film (partly because of how the trailer presented it) but this film has some great use of practical effects. In particular a deceased monkey that is brought back to life (if you can call it life) and then they also had a stunt actor in a full make up and costume when the misunderstood monster inevitably appears. Apart from one segment in which the film switches over to a terrible looking CGI monkey and attempts to interject some cheap jump scares, this film has a wonderful use of real practical monsters.
What is also wonderful about the film is the style in which it presents itself and the brilliant work by the films art department. Sets, costumes, locales, everything in Victor Frankenstein looks real and lived in. I’m a sucker for this kind of stuff and when it’s done right you can be damn sure that I’m going to give you some props for it. Because of the attention to detail I believed in the world and I enjoyed experiencing it.
The last point I want to touch upon is the plot. This is a plot that won’t surprise you or even necessarily grab your full attention – it’s more there as a vehicle to get our main characters from one spot to the other. I didn’t really care about a lot of it and the neither did the film at some point – completely disregarding moments that it brought up earlier in the film – but it didn’t really matter because this is a film about Dr Frankenstein and his partner Igor. The film achieved its goal of exploring these characters and everything else seemed superfluous to it.
I in the end enjoyed my time with Victor Frankenstein. This isn’t an incredible piece of cinema, it’s barely even a great piece of cinema but I still had fun watching it – mostly due to McAvoy and Radcliffe and what they do with the characters.
I’m going to recommend Victor Frankenstein. This film won’t surprise you in any way but I’m confident you’ll enjoy your time with it (if only just for a little bit).
What did you think of Victor Frankenstein? Let me know in the comments down below. If you want to keep up with the rest of my ramblings then feel free to follow me on Twitter, @GavinsTurtle. Last but not least have a great weekend and if it’s your Birthday, Happy Birthday.